Sunday, November 07, 2010

Makpo', Lao Ti Makpo'

The ballots for the Gubernatorial election for Guam's 2010 election were recounted today.

The unofficial Tuesday night count of the votes placed Calvo/Tenorio ahead of Gutierrez/Aguon by 583 votes.

The recount today placed the official vote count with Calvo/Tenorio ahead of Gutierrez/Aguon by 487.

The results were certified declaring Calvo/Tenorio the future Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Guam.

The Gutierrez/Aguon team, while not protesting, has refused to concede because of some irregularities and problems their campaign witnesses with the storing and transporting of votes. In their letter that they submitted to the Guam Election Commission, they outlined the following issues which they feel affected the integrity of the vote count.

There concerns were that election officials had not followed Guam law when transporting votes, that lockboxes which carried already cast votes, were seen opened at voting stations even though they are supposed to be kept closed and secure until counting begins, and finally that a company "controlled" or "owned" by Senator Ray Tenorio had security guards watching the ballots and were left alone with the ballots for several hours without GEC supervision.

There are several other points which they make, and have sworn to file a lawsuit in the coming week to seek that the election results which were just certified a few hours ago, be de-certified.

Obviously this could be yet another well-documented example of Carl Gutierrez showing how stubborn he can be and refusing to let go power. This will most likely be his last run for Governor since this makes attempt number 7 (I think) (if you include Geri's run in 2002), and he is already getting up there in years and will have trouble making the case that he can win the election for Democrats or that he is what the people of Guam want, when he has lost elections for Governor in three different decades. He has nothing to lose, he doesn't have to give in to the feeling of wanting a longer political career or not wanting to damage his party long term, which often leads to candidates conceding when they should fight. Al Gore in 2000, a perfect example of that.

One thing, that people often forget, and live to forget, is that literally for any election on Guam or in the states, you could challenge and call into question the count.

The problems in voting and managing and counting votes mentioned above are things which happen in all election, although sometimes it is more obvious than others. Democracies are inefficient and corrupt. Things always go wrong, mistakes are always made and the rules are very rarely followed to the letter. This is a gray area which Republicans in the US still continue to take advantage of, in working to stifle or deter minority votes. The larger the election, the more problems, the more votes are spoiled, the more mistakes are made, the more things are overlooked in order to simply settle the deal quickly and make sure that there is a smooth transition of power and that the political game continues. One of the paradoxes of democracies is that while they are built upon the notion of power resting with the people, when enjoyed in their "representative" form, they are also built upon people not having said power, but rather giving it up to those above them. This is, in my opinion, one of the reasons why even if everybody says the mantra of kada na botu matufong, or every vote being counted is something celebrated and yelled from the rooftops, few people ever actually want to have the counting go on to ensure such does take place.

The trauma over the transition not being smooth, or there not being a clear heir to the current sovereign, has little to do with government and whether or not it will function as is, but rather stems from the perceived relationship of the voters/citizens with their government. That potential gap, that no man's land, where it is uncertain who will take power next, who will be in charge can be nasty and get out of control, because it represents an opening in the government, which can force upon the voter nagging questions about what would life be like without the state, and most prominently what would their life and their responsibilities be like if there was no government. That gap is of course both freedom and terror, the feeling of new identities, responsibilities, new relations, and also the fear and loathing of having to change, to reinvent things, to find ways of doing things that you once felt that others did for you.

People tend to prefer the illusion of order and legitimate transition instead of the pursuit of more certain truth when it comes to voting, and so that is one of the reasons why even though in every election a challenge can be made, protests can happen and lawsuits can take place, the system works against the challenger. The system presses down and diminishes their claims, it makes them seem like, the problems which they profess to reveal or inform the people about, are somehow their fault. Their claims, which should be treated fairly and given a real chance to be proven valid or not, are instead sneered at as being the deceptions of sore losers and the messenger is attacked, when the message is still valid. Even if Gutierrez is using a lawsuit to challenge the election because he refuses to let go of his last chance to be Maga'lahi again, that doesn't meant that his claims are groundless. That is the difficulty in all elections, is finding a way to navigate that huge gap between the fluffy and nice rhetoric of democracy and the complications and limits which are a part of it, which means that things can and will get messy. And when they do, you can sweep them under the carpet or you can deal with them.

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